George Orwell

“Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two equals four.”

Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell, created literary works that have only become more relevant with time. His classic Nineteen Eighty-Four provides a bold critique of totalitarianism and societal surveillance, and is a novel still actively analyzed today. Much of the dialect used in the novel has become part of the English language, and the term ‘Orwellian” has even become its own turn of phrase. At RR Auction, Orwell letters have made for popular lots, especially those relating to his literary masterpiece. 

The first page of Orwell’s typed letter featuring the Barnhill, Isle of Jura letterhead.
The second page of Orwell’s letter to editor Richard Usborne.
The final page of his letter, signed, “Geo. Orwell.”

Written while immersed in his work for Nineteen Eighty-Four, this letter offers a personal account of Orwell’s life experiences and his views on politics. In part he writes, “I became infected with a horror of totalitarianism…I have never belonged to a political party, and I believe that even politically I am more valuable if I record what I believe to be true and refuse to toe a party line.” Orwell’s perspective on the political landscape of the late 1940s is emulated in the world-building and characterization present in Nineteen Eighty-Four, making this the most stellar example of an Orwell letter that RR Auction has ever offered.

Orwell's letter from "Room 65, Private Wing, University College Hospital."
Orwell’s letter from “Room 65, Private Wing, University College Hospital.”
The second page of Orwell's letter signed "Geo. Orwell."
The second page of Orwell’s letter signed “Geo. Orwell.”

Later in his life, Orwell’s health began to deteriorate due to complications from tuberculosis. This letter written on October 2, 1949, just a couple months before his death, recounts his experience at University College Hospital, “I am sorry, but I cannot write anything. They won’t let me work, & I doubt whether I could if they would let me. At present however I am somewhat better, thanks to aureomycin, & I hope that may continue.” Nineteen Eighty-Four had only been published a few months prior to this letter, and while it was well received by critics Orwell did not live to see the cultural impact of his work, passing away on January 21, 1950.

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